21 March 2012

On Tolkien Berating Nazis, and my getting scooped.

One problem I have found myself facing as a blogger is my lax posting. I often have a great idea, or write a nice rant on a current event, only to find myself neglecting to post it, and it remaining in draft form long after the event has remained topical.
I bring this up because of this article over at one of my more frequent blog haunts, io9.com.
It’s only a short post, the crux of which is J.R.R. Tolkien’s reply to some German publishers who are looking to get a German translation of his masterworks produced. There is a great quote from the man himself directly to the cretinous Nazi’s.
The annoying thing is, during my research into Tolkien for my previous post regarding a Tolkienesque monogram I tried to design for myself*, I came across the Tolkien/Nazi missives and thought it was impressive, and would make for a cool blog.
And really, who is cooler than an old age Tolkien?
But gods damn it I was scooped; and it wasn't even a recent story!
Nonetheless, I will include the quote here for those who either haven’t read the link yet, or don’t plan to, along with a bit of commentary from myself.
The whole thing started in 1938, when German publishing house Rütten & Loening Verlag was getting ready to release a German language version of The Hobbit. Germany being well within the throws of Nazism at the time lead the publishers to enquire as to whether Tolkien was of Aryan descent. Being well aware of the situation in Germany, and no fan of the totalitarian Hitler (who he called a 'ruddy little ignoramus'), Tolkien wrote a letter to the publisher, first outlining the ridiculous etymological origins of the supposed “Aryan race” by pointing out to the witless Nazis that ‘Aryan’ is actually a linguistic term to denoting speakers of Indo-Iranian languages; and secondly by going to great length to not only rub his admiration of Jewish people in their face, but also to express his lament at what he sees as the degradation of German integrity at the hands of the Nazis.
Suck it Nazi's!
Unfortunately Tolkien wrote two versions of this letter and provided them to his British publisher; one was harsh and critical, the other more tactful. Tolkien instructed his publisher to decide what one should be sent, and he chose the more tactful missive. We will never know what that letter contained (as it was destroyed during the war), but I would like to hope that it still contained something similar to the below quote, taken from his more aggressive reply to the Germans race questioning:
“But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject—which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride”
I hope this was somewhat insightful.
*Props to one of my mates who read that previous post, and managed to get me an updated version of my monogram as a vector graphic, just like I wanted.
Cheers mate.

1 comment:

  1. Great post.Just a quick note it is important that German translation being accurate and efficient can indeed not be overstated. Especially in the ever faster moving world of globalized business, successful information and technology transfer within multinational businesses can make the difference between win or lose.